ROME -- More courageous and determined in foreign and domestic policy. This is what readers of Huffington Post Italy said they want President Barack Obama to be in his second term, when asked earlier this month by editors here to submit their thoughts on the topic.
Italians realize that it won’t be easy for the president to work with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, but many hope Obama will deal with some of the unresolved issues of the past four years. One reader expressed the wish that Obama will not betray the trust placed in him by the world when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 -- “an award given to him on the basis of trust more than anything else,” jeanluc72 commented. A trust he must now earn.
On foreign policy, Italian readers said they want Obama to put more effort into finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ninetto Reinhart, for example, wants to see “more dispassion when it comes to the Palestinian situation,” and therefore a position that is “less unbalanced in favor of Israel.”
The situation in the Middle East concerns many commentators. Alfonso Tiberi hopes that Obama “resolves the Israeli-Palestinian issue once and for all,” as well as the Syrian civil war. The same fears are shared by Antonio1972, who hopes that the president will manage to “avoid the very concrete danger of a spreading conflict in the Middle East, from Israel to Iran, going through Syria and Libya, with high risk of involvement from Turkey and even Russia and China.”
One hope shared among readers is that Obama will have “more courage in his choices when it comes to international politics,” said JeanLuc72, echoing the sentiment of many commenters. For Salvatore Sotgiu, the president will be responsible in his second term for “making the United States a true example of democracy again, and address[ing] the remaining gray areas.”
Some reader requests are much more specific, such as the permanent closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and the release of the 200 Afghani children incarcerated in Bagram in Afghanistan, as denounced by Human Rights Watch.
Many Italian readers have clear opinions regarding politics in the United States. Asked what they would recommend if they could advise Obama on his agenda, several readers responded gun control would be a top priority to prevent the recurrence of tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. According to some commenters, Obama should provide a “reform of the education system, with an increase in the quality standards of public schools.” The subject of welfare is very dear to HuffPost Italy readers: thungle03 hopes the president will make Americans understand “the advantages of a social state, not to be confused with socialism.”
In general, readers expressed expectations for Obama to place greater emphasis on the rights of women and minorities, and make substantial efforts to reduce the gap between the super rich and the super poor. Jre11, for example, hopes the White House is capable of facing the social tensions and the crisis of values that are putting a strain on American society.
Regarding “unkept promises,” HuffPost Italy readers expect something more regarding the environment. Diego Castello writes, “For the future, I hope Obama will promote energy policies centered on renewable energy.”
Finally, regarding the economy, readers hope Obama will manage to avoid a fight over the debt ceiling, which still threatens the U.S. economy despite the last-minute compromise reached with the House of Representatives on New Year’s Day to avert the fiscal cliff. “The global economy cannot reach stability until the United States settles its accounts and reduces the deficit,” writes Salvatore Sotgiu.
Many also told HuffPost Italy that they hope the president will be able to reduce the absolute power of big money and lobbyists who, according to thungle03, “can do everything and buy anything.”
All in all, many readers hoped Obama won’t be afraid to keep his promises from four years ago: change America -- to change, at least a little, the world.